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Style Advice desperately needed!

(34 Posts)
MrawMraw Fri 16-Nov-12 17:32:35

OK, recently I have been perusing this S&B section. I used to be very into fashion and beauty before I had children, but body image issues and also just lack of time and money to spend on myself has meant that after my second DC was born I just gave up and stopped bothering much.

So over time I have been gradually getting more and more slovenly and (a word my granny would use!) - bedraggled.

I had a moment of realisation this afternoon whilst doing the school run - what am I actually wearing?

I was/am wearing -

scrub trousers (yes those things medics in theatres wear - I work part time but not even at work today) over jeans.

Really old black platform style shoes with the strap missing with visible men's socks.

My eldest daughter's pink fleece (she is 7! but it's big made) with no bra underneath.

A jacket (only OK part)

No make up.

Hair in ponytail but not even brushed (didn't have time this morning so I thought who cares I've already been out like that this morning - stupid I know)

shock blush blush

I really REALLY need a style overhaul. I used to spend a lot of time and money on clothes and beauty and I think the problem is I don't know how to "downsize" to a more manageable amount or time so just gave up caring at all. Since I only have 30 mins in the morning and 30 mins in the evening (I use the evening time to shower and wash hair).


Any advice / tips , or even just an outline of what you wear and your "routine" would be very helpful.


MrawMraw Fri 16-Nov-12 17:33:44

And also I don't really know what suits me / my body type anymore.

dexter73 Fri 16-Nov-12 17:50:36

What is your body size/shape? Colouring? Budget?

MrawMraw Fri 16-Nov-12 18:03:20

I'm quite petite really, I'm 5ft 1 and 7st 5 . A size 8, very occasionally a 10. The body shape thing was that even though I am the same weight and just one size up from pre-DC, my actual shape has changed, iyswim? My boobs don't work with low cut tops anymore (they used to be small but perky, now just small!), my hips are wider but also I no longer have a waist as such, a have a small pouchy tummy, and a main thing is that I can't wear anything which would possibly show my stomach as I have really noticeably severe stretchmarks (even 3 years after last DC, the GP asked if they could bring some students in during a routine examination and started telling them "and here we have an example of very extensive striae grav - something or other due to pregancy" blush).

I am very pale, cool undertones (apparently), some acne, natural blonde fine hair which I hate as it's thin, blue eyes.

Erm, well I worked it out today on my first venture into this as about £60 / £70 a month for clothes, don't know how much for products.

I could dip into savings and spend a few hundred to start off with though. I did buy winter boots and bras recently, but most of my clothes are very outdated and more suited to my 19 year old childless self and I wouldn't wear them now, would feel silly. Otherwise they are hand me downs from sister, grandmother (!), great aunts, gothic cousin etc. Or bought completely in necessity (cheap pink zebra print wellies out of the kid's section in tesco, anyone?)

God this is daunting. blush

MrsCampbellBlack Fri 16-Nov-12 18:06:59

Mraw you sound similar size to me but slimmer! How old are you and what was your style like in the past?

MrawMraw Fri 16-Nov-12 18:54:15

I'm 26. I have a DD of 7 and DS of 3.

I know I'm still young, but I was very high fashion in my younger years. I worked full time since I was 16 but lived with parents so had no outgoings and used to wear lots of high heels, dresses, eclectic twists, loads of impractical stuff, some designer. I can't even really remember tbh it seems like so far away with DC to run around after, now I wouldn't even know where to start confused. I used to spend 4 hours getting ready blush. Now it's 30 mins and gulping down a cup of tea. I need to do something though, can't walk around like that all the time (or even at all!).

I quite like 1940s styles although not sure how practical that would be. I also like quite minimalist stuff with little details - some of the mum's at my DD school are so stylish but understated I just hide!. I'd like some kind of height, I'm too short to wear flat all the time, but comfortable. Also (conversely) like the outdoorsy look a couple of the mum's at the school gate have (hiking gear, but stylish).

DP says I don't need to care about it, he finds me gorgeous (how, when I spend half my life in my granny's size 16 penny plain jumpers and dressing gowns with stains on?!). He says tribal women in parts of the world never wear bras or make up it's madness to be concerned, goes into a mini-rant about evil capitalist marketing etc hmm

MrawMraw Fri 16-Nov-12 19:00:30

Oh, and if this is a consideration - I can't drive so walk everywhere, to the point where local people comment on the fact they see me walking everywhere either myself (when they at nursery or school) or with 1/2 DC in tow - That limits my getting ready time.

I work 26 hours a week but don't need to factor in workwear as I have a delightful healthcare uniform. DP works very long hours 80 hours a week so everything else falls to me, I'm basically a SAHM and also working 26 hours, so time is in short supply.

mamaonion Fri 16-Nov-12 19:19:26

I am sahm. By no means a fashion icon but think I'm well presented. I do tend to live in skinny jeans for day to day as this is so practical with the baby, doesn't show dirt and good for walking to school! Wear with jumpers or cardis- but may different styles. Also sometimes wear floral dresses and tights/ leggings. If its cold wear Uggs,I know they are considered frumpy but just so easy to pull on in a hurry, and feel amazing. Or wear ankle boots with stack heal which are super comfy. Got some old Kurt Geiger ones with hiker style eyelets and furry top, or slightly smarter suede black western style ones.
I'll be interested to see other suggestions- I think as sahm you're quite limited as it has to be comfy, suitable for rescuing babies from climbing frame, warm and machine washable!!!!

Make up I have down to a fine art, primer, mac foundation, under eye concealer, neutral eyeshadow all over lis and socket,grey-brown pencil,mascara, eyebrow pencil and bit of blush. Takes 5 mins.

mamaonion Fri 16-Nov-12 19:21:43

Oh and of course bit of lippy or gloss! Hope that helps. Also read the small boob thread here. Just got new bra in 28 back e cup and my boobs look much much improved from 32c!!!

MrawMraw Fri 16-Nov-12 19:41:27

Oooh glad to hear that make up can be done so quickly. Would you mind explaining how you do it so quickly? like how to apply it so quickly, or is it just practise? I used to take 5 mins each eye (!) to do make up.

I like the idea of floral dresses with tights (I assume opaque as sheer wouldn't be good for running about after DC?) , it's a bit of the vintage style without the high maintenance I guess.

Yes, definitely needs to be machine washable, comfy, and good in the rain (it's very rainy here most of the year).

Ugg boots I think are fine actually. I doubt they'd be too practical with me though, walking everywhere and it can start raining any minute here.

Will read the small boob thread. M&S measured me at a 34a (I was still wearing 34c maternity bras 3 years after stopping bf! shock until recently), but I think the 34 part is rubbish, like it said on the other bra thread. I'm too petite to be a 34. I feel comfortable in a 32b, pre dc and now although after repeated wear they have always gaped a little at the top, so I'm assuming 30C? Tried some on recently and they were tiny though breast tissue was squashed, double boob effect, so maybe will try a 30D. DP bought me a 28" back bra from Bravissmo last Christmas (well his sister bought it after him telling her I'm probably the smallest size weight wise) and I cannot breathe wearing it so I think 28 prob too small on me.

Recently, I have noticed even my family dropping hints at my scruffiness blush. My sister bought me a Bare Minerals Starter kit with mineral foundation and bronzer stuff but don't know what to do with it as previously used liquid foundation). DP bought me this coat in black for when we went walking and I quite like it, it's the only thing in my wardrobe I like -

midnightinmoscow Fri 16-Nov-12 20:20:08

Firstly, I'd say go to a decent hairdresser and get some advice about styling your hair on a everyday basis, they will advise re products. Any good hairdresser should do this as part of an appointment.

These are the things I do to get ready in the morning with 2 DC's hanging around.

Make-up: I have a small make up bag with just my every day essentials in it. I put on some primer to 'fix' my foundation. Then foundation, which I use a brush to apply. Quick dust of bronzer (Nars laguna is fab), bit of blush (Nars again, Orgasm this time). Very quick smudge of eyeliner - I use Mac Blooz, which I find is a really easy pencil to use and then mascara. If I can't be bothered with lipstick, I just use tinted vasaline.

I get all my clothes out the night before, underwear, scarf etc, everything. Shoes at the door.

I have all my hair products/hairdryer in a basket. If I am running late I can bring it downstairs and do my hair whilst the DC's eat breakfast or watch some TV!

I use the DC's bath time to do some beauty stuff in the bathroom, so paint toenails, pluck eye brows, face mask etc.

Meggles76 Fri 16-Nov-12 21:01:28

I am similar height and size to you.
As others have suggested, get thee to a hairdresser and find a style that suits. Get your eyebrows threaded and have your nails filed and polished. These things instantly make me feel more groomed.
Day to day I wear skinnys. Try Topshop leigh jeans which I find a good fit. They come in lots of colours. I pair with quirky shirts and pretty blouses. Or try a fitted cashmere sweater.
I also like dresses and opaques. Topshop have some nice skater style dresses and French Connection jersey dresses always fit me well.
I have just bought a petite fit blazer from Boden which is proving really useful.
I also wear a lot of scarves.
Footwear, I like heeled ankle boots - Ash jalouse style are nice and everywhere. I also do wedge trainers.

MrawMraw Fri 16-Nov-12 21:47:25

Thanks, some great advice smile

I am a bit scared of the hairdresser tbh as I have a medical issue which causes hair loss to varying degrees some people almost total loss and some people mild shedding and whilst everyone who knows me well has reassured me that my hair doesn't look that thin or balding or anything at this time anyway, I'm still paranoid about it. Although I have a friend who has alopecia and another friend who is a pre-op transexual and both their wigs are expensive but look really lovely and natural so that does give me hope in a worst case scenario, but I don't like facing up to the issue of possible noticeable hair loss in the future. But I will try. Hair is shoulder length currently and not much style to it, naturally a little wavy, have never thought I suit straighteners.

Oh those leigh jeans look lovely! £40 about the max I would pay for jeans nowadays, however if they fit well I would get them. Do you get the petite or regular?

Midnight, I am getting some tinted vaseline tomorrow! Seems like a good first step.

I used to get my eyebrows waxed and liked it but don't know if I can justify £18 a month for eyebrows now (they grow quick and the cheaper places I used to find always done them that too thin "surprised" look!). Would plucking work the same (trying to pluck properly I mean)?

I like shirts, I always have so may try to get some.

Scarves too, I like scarves and can't be hard to get 'right' surely? Would cheap scarves do?

Where do you get your wedge trainers? I used to have some years ago when DD was small from Rocket Dog and wore them to death.

I have been thinking about all this for a while and telling myself it didn't matter but it has been annoying me. It's one thing to wear boring stuff but quite another to go out in hand me downs which are 4 sizes too big belonging to a 80 year old and wearing work scrubs on days off and generally looking like a tramp. I think it's poor self image, like I'm scared of making an effort because I imagine people will laugh at me and think / say , "Who does she think she is" or something. (mad I know).

Was walking around shops the other day (I live 4 miles outside a quite largish city, so have a branch of most shops you could think of) as I had a childfree day . I wandered around feeling hot, sweaty and completely out of place. But I did get a feel for some shops I may like to try and frequent now with my new post DC budget. I came up with -

H&M (some junk but even I did manage to see some really nice stuff, sort of my style if I had one)

TK Maxx (some of the stuff)

Fat Face

New Look (?? not sure about this one)

Urban Outfitters (too young / trendy?)

Office and Schuh for footwear.

River Island and Topshop (although Topshop seemed too young/trendy)

Where do you all shop? x

(sorry for all the questions!)

cathyandclaire Fri 16-Nov-12 21:52:57

I'm with you on the price of eyebrow waxing! I use
Smooth appeal hot eyebrow wax, it hardens and you just rip the hard wax off, even I can do it. Go gently the first time but if you've got bushy eyebrows it's way easier and quicker than plucking... If you've just a few stray hairs ( lucky girl) tweezing may be better. Good luck!

LtheWife Fri 16-Nov-12 22:18:57

In the nicest possible way you sound like you're in a rut and completely overwhelmed, so Ill make a few simple suggestions that you can do straight away without too much effort.

Start by going through your wardrobe and pick out the best items that you can get away with wearing during the day, even if it's the stuff you usually keep for best, and start wearing them and only them. Even if you can only cobble together a few half decent outfits you'll look better wearing the same half decent outfits on a more frequent basis than you would by having lots of different but not so good outfits and you can change things up a bit by adding different accessories. Set out your clothes the night before so you can just grab and go in the morning.

What's your hair like at the moment? Is it long enough for a sock bun? If so that's a great practical hairstyle that takes only moments to do with a bit of practice.

Make up wise, reintroduce it to your morning routine a bit at a time if needs be. Start with mascara, it's amazing how just a quick coat of mascara can make you look more awake and put together. Keep a lipgloss in the kitchen and another in your coat pocket. If you get one of the squeezy tubes you can add a quick slick of gloss whilst sorting out breakfast and if you forget you've got one in your pocket so can do it as you step out the door.

Then think about giving the bare minerals a go, the starter kits come with a DVD but if you don't have it then there are videos on their website. Basically, put a tiny bit of the foundation powder in the lid and swirl the brush in it, tap off any excess then buff it in to your skin in a circular motion (imagine you're polishing a streaky mirror). Repeat that process with the mineral veil. If you've got enough time you can also use the foundation powder with the concealer brush to cover dark circles and any blemishes etc (do this before the mineral veil). With practice you can do the all over foundation and mineral veil without having to look in the mirror.

When you get to that stage you can have foundation, mascara and lips done in under 5 minutes. Add a bit of blusher for a bit of colour and a sweep of eyeshadow to your lids and you'll look even more groomed. With a sock bun you should be able to get ready in around 15 minutes.

It's not exactly a make over, but those few simple changes might just be enough to get you feeling a bit better about yourself. When you're not feeling quite so self conscious you're more likely to be able to identify your style and start scouring the shops for new clothes.

MrawMraw Fri 16-Nov-12 22:40:41

Thanks LtheWife x

I know, you are completely right no offence taken smile. I am thinking a quick fix - buy x, y and z and I will transform instantly. But no, it will take effort and practice.

It's all been so gradual to this point blush. I used to be one of those people who wouldn't leave the house without make up and wouldn't have dreamed of tracksuit bottoms (but now ironed tracksuit bottoms would be an improvement!). But very gradually I started getting frustrated with the lack of time and looking shit at events or family parties cause 2 DC hanging all over me I couldn't have time to get ready, got PND for unrelated reasons then came out of PND and had a second child which was hectic for a while. After he was born I got into the habit of wearing the closest thing to hand and practicality ruled. Then gradually got even less motivated and sort of low level depressed and started trying to 'hide' I suppose. But I really need to get a grip, I caught myself the other day knowing my jumper was inside out underneath my jacket but not bothering to turn it the right way round, and wearing old work scrubs on days off is really bad.

I sorted my wardrobe the other week and got rid of a LOT of things which don't suit me, too young, don't fit, stained, worn, outdated etc and was left with some decent stuff so will try that. And wearing a necklace (I have some bits of accessorize type jewellery and a very few pieces of real jewellery) wouldn't hurt.

I am now going to watch the BM DVD and do have mascara although I don't wear it often (but should I know since I have small deep set eyes). Going to get tinted vaseline tomorrow.

What on Earth is a Sock Bun? grin

Justreadthefuckingwords Fri 16-Nov-12 23:14:34

Mraw, as L says, I think you sound a little overwhelmed by it all, so start from the bottom.

Get everything for your wardrobe, throw all the ridiculous hand-me-downs away. Sort out a few pieces that you feel good with. It's a difficult transition to go from no DCs, some-one who cares about fashion, goes out a lot & whose wardrobe reflects that, to a working mother. You have to completely re-think what will work for you.

So you're building from the ground up, you need foundations, what do you do everyday? You're a HCP, I guess you wear uniform at work so not too much to think about there. So casual, always a good place to start (but not so easy - it took me years to learn how to dress casually, it's not as easy as it looks.)

If I was starting from scratch, I would look for a good pair of jeans, ignore fashion in this case - every-one is skinny crazed atm - try on lots of pairs, see what suits, with your height & size, try a straight leg that can be rolled up & worn with flats or heels.

Once you have the jeans sorted I would look for skirts, shirts, tops & woolens - you favour a 40's style - there's loads out there - go with it - it's you & it is practical - why not? My natural style veers between 50's & 70's (I love a 70's mum look, equally I adore a 50's Dior New Look) - just a cut in a certain item can bring it all together.

So get a shirt, a few tops, a decent bra, a couple of bits of knitwear, a skirt & a dress & you've got quite a few outfits going on there already.

Two pairs of shoes maybe, if you're into 40's, a flat, lace-up granny shoe & a glamorous block-heel & you're there.

A tweed coat from ebay or a vintage shop would look great.

& if it's 40's you're after only do a scarf if it's on your head.

Get ya victory rolls in (do wonders for thin hair), whack on a bit of tinted moisturiser, a slick of liner & mascara & red, red lips.

Job done.

Have fun with it, don't stress, it's only fashion, too many people take it too seriously, don't worry what anyone else thinks. Do it for yourself.

Paintyourbox Sat 17-Nov-12 09:21:18

Hi Mraw

I am trying to have a massive overhaul at the moment as my shape has changed post DC.

I went through my wardrobe and made 3 piles: keep, eBay and charity shop. You have to be a bit ruthless here, if it doesn't fit it goes, if its totally not your style it goes. Don't hang on to things because you "might like them some day"

The next thing I am working on is a "capsule wardrobe" of outfits that are interchangeable. I tend to stick to the same colours for my basics (jeans, vest tops, dresses etc) then use brighter colours for my accessories (scarves, bags etc)

My daily "uniform" tends to be jeans, a vest top, nice jumper/cardigan (uniqlo merino wool is fab) and good quality leather knee-high boots with a stack heel.

I store things as "outfits" in my wardrobe so I just have to grab one hanger and it has my tops, jeans and accessories all in easy reach.

Treat yourself to some yummy new PJs, it's great to feel good even when lounging about the house.

In terms of your beauty routine, I have my brows threaded regularly as it saves time. My make-up routine consists of tinted moisturiser, blusher and a bit of under-eye concealer (all benefit as it suits my extra pale skin) and a bit of mascara and white eye liner on my inner lids to make me look more awake. Practice makes perfect and it only takes me 5 minutes each morning now.

Celticlassie Sat 17-Nov-12 10:32:02

In terms of feeling too 'old' for certain shops - I'm 32 and shop in Topshop, Urban Outfitters and H&M so certainly don't think you're too old! Also, the thing you said about feeling self conscious, the 'who does she think she is?' thing, I used to be massively scruffy and dowdy for work, and felt like I'd get those kind of comments, but other than the odd 'you look nice', there was nothing! So don't worry about that.

Maybe try Dorothy Perkins for skinnies if you're on a budget - mine were only £25 and are super skinny so suit very slim legs and are available in petite too.

QueenCadbury Sat 17-Nov-12 11:42:51

Not sure what I can add here as there's some really good advice. I'm a SAHM and live in jeans from gap in both straight leg and boot cut and converse. I tend to go for neutral colour tops, grey, black, navy, white and have a rather large selection of different coloured cardigans. That way everything tends to go together. As you say adding jewellery can make you look more groomed. And a good bag.

When I had pnd I used to look at people and they all looked impossibly glam but I've realised it only takes a bit of effort to be like that. I've just become a SAHM and I can see that it would be easy to get sucked into the whole tracksuit/crappy clothes thing as when you get covered in baby goo for the 100th time that day you wonder why you bother with nice clothes. But it really has helped with my self esteem.

Eyebrow wise I tend to get them waxed 2 or 3 times a year for important occasions like weddings, birthday etc and then I just pluck or wax myself in between as like you I can't justify paying for it every 6 weeks. Make up takes me about 2 mins but I only wear powder, blusher and mascara. Nails I do at night before bed and find it really relaxing.

Have fun shopping.

QueenCadbury Sat 17-Nov-12 11:44:33

Oh, and I shop at gap mainly but also some bits from fat face, white stuff, Dorothy Perkins, oasis and mango.

Meggles76 Sat 17-Nov-12 13:33:51

It is easy for us all to lose our way and become overwhelmed at times. We also have to work at feeling comfortable in our own skin and loving ourselves.
I get my eyebrows threaded for £3 in a local shopping centre . Have a shop around. I know our local college also offers some beauty treatments very cheaply.
Yes, I go for the petite fit Leigh jeans. The length is better for me. Next petite also do some reasonable high waist skinnys at less than £30 if you are looking to spend less.
I don't think you need to spend a fortune on scarves. H&M, Primark, M&S, Dorothy Perkins all have some cheaper ones.
In terms of shopping, I am a high street kind of a girl. Over the years I have worked out what fits me well and from where. Next petite and Topshop petite for jeans and shirts. Next petite for dresses. Boden petite for blazers and dresses. French Connection for jersey dresses. H&M for shorts, tops and scarves. I also like fine wool scarves from white stuff. M&S do short length trousers, jeans and jeggings. I like Clarks for shoes. My wedge trainers were from Ash and ridiculously expensive. Probably wouldn't pay as much again. You can pick them up in Topshop, New Look, Dune etc...
Agree with others. Go through your wardrobe and decide what is still ok. Then look to fill in the gaps each month on the budget you have.

MrawMraw Sat 17-Nov-12 14:37:19

Oh thanks so much, this advice has been brilliant. I half thought I'd be judged for having let myself go so much. I am not depressed now, but I did spend a couple of years depressed and even going in the shower was a chore. I just got stuck in a rut and a fog and when I came out of it, sort of don't know who I am anymore - this person who somehow managed to have 2 children and a proper job grin.

OK, the plan is -

1) Go through wardrobe (again) and get rid of even more ridiculous hand me downs (seriously - size 12 "tall" jeans from DP's cousin, size 16 Penny Plain jumpers belonging to my Granny, there are some 70s style very cheap platform boots you know the kind in Saturday Night Fever grin , I got from my cousin who I love and miss since she moved away so was hanging onto them). I will make way for new stuff. Had a look last night and following all your great advice I will probably get some High Street stuff which fits and suits and some new jewellery (not gold or anything!). I will try to conquer my frumpy feeling and embrace some of the shops mentioned.

I think that is the best plan. And putting my outfits out the night before will definitely work to stop me from just thinking "what the hell" in the morning.

I don't think I could or want to spend too much on clothes etc, because I am a saver and also not on a good income, unless I do overtime , which I don't due to other issues (over bearing MIL and being the person who does all household stuff). I would spend more on a jacket/coat and maybe boots/heels, jeans if they fit well, and skincare/face make up, but everything else will need to be el cheapo grin

2) I might start doing something for "me" on DS nursery times when I'm not working, ie a Wednesday from 9-11.30 me time, instead of doing housework or sitting around doing nothing.

3) Make up and beauty. Have worked out a plan (I think).

I was staying with my aunt last month when DP took the DC's fishing / camping and I used her Dr Hauschka cleaner and rose cream and it felt really nice on my skin. She also told me she uses diluted witch hazel and that's it. She is late 50s but look much younger. She gave me the tube and a sample size of Melissa cream but due to my laziness I've hardly used it. So I will start. Got witch hazel somewhere in here too.

I watched the Bare Minerals DVD so will start the starter kit (hopefully just 5 mins in the morning).

Going to buy a cheap eyeshadow palette with a nude colour, brown, and mossy green (I know my eyes suit green). I have an angled brush set so I guess I could use the brown as liner too if needed. And will buy a (waterproof?) mascara

Will get eyebrows waxed occasionally, like someone suggested. The rest of the time I will pluck a little.

Bought tinted vaseline today in supermarket.

I used to love perfume but now can't justify the expense really, but it always did make me feel better wearing it. Are the Body Shop scents any good? as they are cheap. I like either musky feminine scents, or fresh "grassy" scents.

and ...... thanks to whomever recommended a sock bun. I looked up tutorials online last night and it seems really good idea for work and children and to get the look of thicker hair quickly without styling. And also it's ready made curls (I do not have time for curlers).

Hopefully the morning routine should only take about 20/25 mins I'm hoping.

Going to sort wardrobe and do a trial run tonight when DC in bed.

Your advice has been invaluable MN. If there is anything else anyone can think of would be great.

Someone said it looks as if those groomed mum's at the school gate took hours on their appearance, but actually you have made me see it may be possible with short money and time x

midnightinmoscow Sat 17-Nov-12 16:48:31

Try warehouse for scarves.

They are a really good size, so good to get lots of volume with them and do some lovely designs. Something like this:

Also H&M are having a fabulous season and you are no way too old for it! this dress is a great buy, easy to wear with opaques or leggings and ankle boots or knee boots.

BloooCowWonders Sat 17-Nov-12 17:07:13

If you're on a budget (who isn't?!) It might be worth going to a charity shop and picking up say 4 scarves. Wear them all over a week or two to see if any really appeal. You might find that one particular colour is just 'you' and crucially you won't have shelled out very much.

After that, you'll probable feel more confident about branching out into different looks

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